of Literacy Terms
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n. something that meets a need.
acronym n. a word formed from the initial letters of a name,
as in NIFL for National Institute for Literacy
active reading constructing meaning from text by transforming
and integrating textual information into existing networks of knowledge
adult basic education (ABE) a term applied to "the education
of adults in the areas of primary knowledge such as literacy and
numeracy, of social and life skills, and of understanding of community
life necessary to responsible participation in society" (UNESCO,
adult literacy a level of literacy that enables a person
in or about to enter the workforce to function effectively both
as an individual and as a member of society; functional adult literacy.
Note: "The issue that the term 'adult' raises derives from the need
to include social relevancy in the definition of literacy" (Venezky
et al., 1990). Numerous agencies exist for the study of adult literacy
and the dissemination of information about adult literacy resources.
See also functional literacy; literacy.
communicative competence in an oral culture that does not have
a writing system. See also literacy.
basic skills a general term referring primarily to cognitive
and language-related skills such as speaking, listening, reading,
writing, and mathematics, which are needed for many school learning
behavioral objective a statement of the nature and degree
of measurable performance that is expected for a specified instructional
outcome, as setting a goal of writing a short essay without spelling
behavior modification the systematic application of the
principals of learning theory to change behavior by modifying
events that precede or follow the behavior.
bibliophile n. a connoisseur of or enthusiast for books.
biliteracy n. the ability to read and write in more than
one language. Cp. bilingualism. adj. biliterate.
literate a person competent in reading, writing, and speaking
the language of the academic world, but not necessarily that of
the "real world."
cognitive deficit difficulty with perception, reasoning,
judgement, intuition, memory, or conception that interferes with
learning and the acquisition of knowledge.
community language 1. Language representative of an identifiable
group of persons with similar traits, backgrounds, or interests.
2. (Austral., Brit.) the language of immigrant groups.
community literacy reading, other than that done in school,
"associated with participation in neighborhood activities and
in government, church, and social organizations" (Arthur &
Greany, 1991) as the reading of signs, documents, regulations,
competency-based education 1. a type of education "deriving
from the specification, learning, and demonstration of the knowledge,
skills, behaviour, and attitudes required for a given role, profession
or career" (UNESCO, 1978).
computer-based instruction computer-assisted instruction
resulting in learning specific areas of information.
computer literacy possession of the skills and knowledge
necessary for operating a computer.
core vocabulary basic words and their definitions important
in the understanding of a specific skill area or field
cultural literacy literacy that reflects knowledge of significant
ideas, events, values, etc., of a society, as in advanced literacy.
curriculum n. the courses of study offered by an educational
program. 2. a group of related courses, often in a special field
adj. the sequential acquisition of the ability to learn, reason.
and analyze that begins in infancy and progresses as the individual
distance education education that provides instruction
to learners who are physically separated from teachers. Examples
are telecourses taught through computers connected to modems,
TV, or video tape.
dysgraphia n.1. inability to write properly usually due
to brain disease or injury. 2. Writer's cramp.
dyslexia n. an imprecise term concerning a condition in
which an individual with normal vision is unable to interpret
written language. This results in an inability to spell and write
words without having difficulty recognizing the meaning of objects
dysnomia n. forgetting words or having difficulty in finding
words for written or oral expression
Resources Information Center (ERIC)ERIC, the Educational Resources
Information Center, sponsored by the Office of Educational Research
and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education, is a national
educational information system designed to provide hard-to-find
educational materials, such as research reports, literature reviews,
curriculum guides, conference papers, projects or program reviews,
and government reports.
educational technology the body of educational methods
and resources used in instruction. Note: Beyond media hardware
and software, educational technology involves the design, development,
and management of learning processes through instructional systems.
English for/to speakers of Other languages (ESOL) a term
used instead of English as a Second Language (ESL) that recognizes
that learners may learn English as a one of multiple languages.
literacy literacy efforts or activities involving more than
one generation. Note: A family literacy program generally has
three components: literacy for children (including study skills),
literacy for parents (e.g., GED instruction), and instruction
for adults on how to foster literacy in their children or other
f1uency n. the ability to express oneself readily and effortlessly
in writing or speaking.
fluent reader 1. a reader whose performance exceeds normal
expectation with respect to age and ability; independent reader.
2. any person who reads smoothly, without hesitation and with
functional literacy 1. a level of reading and writing sufficient
for everyday life but not for completely autonomous activity.
2. the application of the skills and knowledge of reading and
writing to adult or near-adult responsibilities in the workplace;
adult literacy; functional adult literacy; pragmatic literacy;
functional reading 1. reading for practical purposes, as
to get information. 2. the level of reading skill needed to get
along in a society. See also functional literacy (defs. 1-3 and
essay). 3. environmental print encountered.
reading reading activities that reinforce the concept that
reading is a dynamic process of interacting with text and the
reader's background knowledge to assimilate new insights.
grade-level equivalent a form for expressing a learner's
reading or writing performance in grade level terms based on testing
n An altered state of consciousness induced by reading
hypertext and characterized by the inability to focus on single,
distinct ideas. Cognitive astigmatism
adj Exceptionally abrupt, as a direct hypertext
link to a random location in RAM
n Any topic of which computer journalists annually
announce that this is The Year, such as UNIX, networking, OS/2,
AI, multimedia, desktop fill-in-the-blank, or hypertext
adj Characterized by being a digression within
a digression (within a digression...). The variation in spelling
is not arbitrary. The Indo-European root from which the "par"
of parenthetical derives is spelled with an e, and means to
grant reciprocally, with the idea of getting something back.
The Indo-European tradition that one ought to be able to get
something back, or just to get back, from a digression, perished
with their culture
n Multidimensional ineptitude
n The smell of hype
n An academic's idea of a catchy term
n Goings-on in hyperspace
n A multidimensional boundary separating the obvious
from the irrelevant
n Any nonlinear serial publication; a journal that
appears regularly but not regular
adj Lost in hyperspace
adj Lying beyond the hyperimeter, as opposed to ordinary
n A hypertext navigational aid used when maps
and browsers fail; in - earlier days called a "core dump."
store n 1. The locus of data protected from
accidental deletion by virtue of being lost; hypertext's contribution
to the architecture of write-only memory. 2. a bouffant boutique
v.t. To rearrange hypertext links randomly. To engage
in data annealing
v.t. To implement a hypertext system
n A measure of the hairness of a hypertext system
n A movie theater of the 1990s. If as has been suggested
by no less eminent hypermedia experts than Ted Nelson and Paul
Heckel the future of the personal computer can be read on the
silver screen, we should expect the workstation of 1999 to run
more expensive software with less content and more flash, and
to display it on six tiny monitors
n Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who wrote one of the
oldest known non-linear documents (later linearized by Edward
Fitzgerald as the Rubaiyat) and who left this advice to readers
for you know not whence you came, nor why;
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.
n The Andes
number n A complexity measure for hypertext
interj A greeting from one hypertext system
designer to another
n A hypertext navigational
n Hypertext with the links removed
n Garbage collection for hypertext.
n A noble ambition worthy of significant financial
backing but incapable of being expressed in terms that mere
linearists can understand
adj In accordance with in a higher dimension, as in,
"Hypursuant to your directive that the staff dress more formally
while in the office, I am taking-Friday afternoon off to go
to the beach"
1.adj. unable to read. 2. adj. unable to read or write 3. adj.
not meeting the educational expectations of a social group, usually
the dominant group; unschooled. 4. adj. uncultured; unread. 5.
adj. without competence in any content field. 6. n. a person who
cannot read and write.
immersion n. in the teaching of foreign languages, the
practice of communicating only in the language being taught.
Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) a written instructional
plan that a team composed of school staff, the learner, and support
personnel develops that includes current educational strengths
and weaknesses, goals and objectives, educational services, start-up
dates for services, and procedures for program evaluation.
individualized instruction instruction that adapted to
a particular learner's individual needs and learning styles.
n. 1. nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk. 2. a hybrid
language or dialect. 3. the specialized or technical language
of a trade
n. 1. the state or fact of knowing 2. familiarity, awareness,
or understanding gained through experience or study.
n. 1. the speech, vocabulary, and grammatical system shared by
people of the same nation, region, community, or cultural tradition,
as Swedish, Basque, or Cajun. 2. oral communication through speech
with arbitrary, accepted symbols and meanings. 3. linguistics;
specifically, the theoretical study of the nature of language.
4. any particular system of communication by a. special symbols,
as the language of mathematics, music, Braille, etc.
learning disability 1. a generic term that refers to a
heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties
in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing,
or mathematical abilities. [Note:] (Presumably, these
disorders are due to central nervous system dysfunction resulting
from such factors as anatomical differences, genetics, neuromaturational
delay, neurochemical or metabolic imbalance, and severe nutritional
deficiency or trauma.) Even though a learning disability may occur
concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g., sensory
impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance)
or environmental influences (e.g., cultural differences, insufficient/inappropriate
instruction, psychogenic factors), it is not the direct result
of those conditions or influences" (National Joint Committee on
Learning Disabilities, 1980). 2. in certification for special
; classes or funding in the United States, "a disorder of one
or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding
or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself
in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell,
or do mathematical calculations. Such disorders include such conditions
as perceptual handicaps, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
The term does not include...learning problems which are primarily
the result of visual, hearing, or motor disturbance, or of environmental
disadvantage" (HEW Standard Terminology, 1975).
literacy n. Note: Few agree a single definition of literacy.
1. the ability of a person "who can with understanding both read
and write a short, simple statement on his everyday life" (UNESCO,
1951) 2. a continuum of skills, including both reading and writing,
applied in a social context UNESCO, 1957). 3. "the possession
by an individual of the essential knowledge and skills which enable
him or her to engage in all those activities required for effective
functioning in his or her group and community and whose attainments
in reading, writing, and arithmetic make it possible for him or
her to use these skills toward his or her own and the community's
development" (UNESCO, 1962) 4. "the ability of a person to engage
in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective
functioning in his group and community and also for enabling him
to continue to use reading, writing, and calculation for his own
and the community's development" (UNESCO, 1978). 5. competence
in a special field, as computer literacy. Note: The extension
of the term literacy to competence in virtually all fields of
knowledge, as computer literacy, and phenomena, as media literacy,
is relatively recent. 6.a minimal ability to read and write in
a designated language, as well as a mindset or way of thinking
about the use of reading and writing in everyday life.
literate 1. adj. able to read and write. 2. adj. in language
use, marked by skillful. clear, and refined expression. 3. adj.
acquainted with a field of knowledge, especially of literature;
well read. Note: The extension of the term to virtually all fields
of knowledge is a relatively recent phenomenon.
approachan instructional approach in which the teacher uses
more than one of the learners senses to teach a particular lesson.
multilevel approach the use of reading materials of different
levels of difficulty in teaching reading as one way of recognizing
individual differences in reading competence.
multimedia n. 1. the combined use of several media, esp.
for the purpose of education or entertainment. 2. the integration
of text, sound, full or partial motion video, or graphics in digital
form as in hypermedia.
language 1. the first language one learns to speak and understand;
mother tongue; primary language. Note: A native language is generally
that which is naturally acquired in childhood, although some speakers
may develop native-like control of additional languages. 2. the
primary or oldest language still spoken in a community , district,
nonreader n. 1. a person who is unable to read even after
extensive instruction; one who fails to learn to read. 2. one
with an extremely severe reading disability. 3. an illiterate
4. one who knows how to read but chooses not to; an illiterate
1. a culture whose values, attitudes, and beliefs are transmitted
through oral language, as most North American Indian cultures
in the l9th century. 2. a culture that values the ability to speak
effectively more than the ability to read and write.
outcome-based education an educational program that relies
on performance assessment to determine its effectiveness.
outreach literacy program an alternative literacy program
offered in a location that makes it easier for members of the
community to attend and encourages attendance of those who tend
to resist institutional education.
of literacy the power struggle in the advocacy and realization
of literacy programs: a. to enhance the presumed aspirations of
all people with respect to command of language, economic well-being,
and social status. b. to exercise economic and social constraints
on literacy education in order to create an elite of the literate
with dominance over the illiterate.
polyglot an individual that is fluent in more than two
preliterate adj. 1. referring to a culture not having or
leaving a written record. 2. referring to a child, usually before
entering school or in kindergarten, who has not yet learned to
read. n. preliteracy.
literacy fluency in reading and writing computational data.
achievement the level of reading ability at which an individual
is estimated to be functioning. Note: Such estimates may be based
on: a. the person's performance on a standardized or informal
reading test. b. the level of basal reader being used for reading
instruction. c. teacher judgment. d. the reading group in which
a student is placed. e. the nature and number of trade books read
by the student. f. some combination of these features.
reading comprehension 1. the act or result of applying
comprehension processes to attain the meaning of a graphic communication;
reading. 2. one or more of several levels of a presumed hierarchy
of reading comprehension processes: a. getting the literal meaning.
b. getting the interpretive or suggested meaning in reading. c.
evaluating what is read in a critical way.
reading to learn the use of reading skills to acquire knowledge,
broaden understandings, and develop appreciations.
remedial reading 1. specialized reading instruction adjusted
to the needs of a student who does not perform satisfactorily
with regular reading instruction. 2. intensive, specialized reading
instruction for students reading considerably below expectancy.
3. developmental reading instruction set at a different pace and
designed for an individual student or a selected group..
remediation n.. the process of correcting or strengthening
areas of academic weakness.
n. (with sing. n) 1. the study of or science of meaning in language
forms. 2. of or related to meaning esp. meaning in language
semiliterate 1. adj. able to read and write only with difficulty.
2. adj. able to read but not write. 3. adj. not proficient or
not well informed in literacy acts. 4. n. a person with any of
these characteristics. n. semiliteracy.
adj. 1. having to do with the sense of touch; tactual. Also, learning
that embodies touching material to be learned Cp. kinesthesis.
task analysis a systematic study of the components of a
skill or other activity for determining a sequence for learning.
television literacy 1. competence in using television to
enhance daily life and to acquire social power. Also teleliteracy.
2. competence in interpreting the successive patterns, or mosaics,
of television stimuli that are characterized by low visual orientation
and high involvement with maximal interplay of all the senses.
adj. 1. illiterate 2. uneducated.
unread adj. 1. illiterate 2. not knowledgeable in a specific
1. n. the standard native, spoken language of a country or locality.
2. n. the every day language spoken by a people as distinguished
from the literary language. 3. n. the idiom of a special trade
vernacular literacy the ability to read, write, and sometimes
speak the common language of a speech community; popular literacy.
virtual reality a computer simulation of a real or imaginary
system that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated
system and shows the effects in real time.
visual literacy the ability to interpret and communicate
with respect to visual symbols in media other than print, as visual
literacy in viewing television, art, nature, etc.
volunteer literacy programs programs in adult basic education
that "are staffed by volunteers, as in the pioneer work of Alfred
Fitzpatrick in Canada, the 'moonlight schools' of Cara Stewart,
the 'citizenship schools' of Miles Horton in the United States,
and the Literacy House of Welthy Honsinger Fisher in India".
literacy literacy of the specific workplace or occupation;
writing to learn the use of writing to learn reading. In
writing to read, students help themselves read; in reading to
write, students help themselves write.
by Michael Swaine
from Adult Literacy & Technology Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 2 - Spring 1990
Theodore L. Harris
Richard E. Hodges
International Reading Association
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